Wednesday, March 11, 2009
At Last Harmful Cosmetic Chemicals are Getting a Closer Look
Phthalates This extensive article, originally published in the Wall Street Journal, examines the dangers of phthalates, chemicals that are used in products ranging from toys to cosmetics to pills.
Phthalates Affect Fetal Development
In experiments on rats, phthalates have demonstrably blocked the action of fetal androgens, which affects gender development in male offspring, with results including undescended testes at birth, low sperm counts, and testicular tumors later in life. Whether phthalates have the same effects in humans has been a matter of heated debate.
Studies Show Effects on Humans
But this year, however, two direct links to humans were made. One study found that boys whose mothers had high phthalate exposures while pregnant were much more likely to have certain demasculinized traits. Another study revealed that 3-month-old boys exposed to phthalates through breast milk produced less testosterone.
Banned in Many Countries
Male reproductive disorders, including testicular cancer, are on the rise worldwide, and many scientists are wondering if phthalates are in part or whole responsible. Five million metric tons of phthalates are used by industry each year, 13 percent in the United States.
Japan has already banned certain types of phthalates in food-handling equipment, and the European Union (EU) recently banned some phthalates in cosmetics and toys. The United States does not restrict phthalates and has lobbied the EU not to increase their regulations.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 4, 2005